Whether you are running on holiday or enjoying a heatwave at home, when exercising in the heat there are 2 basics to keep in mind; hydration and sun protection. Anything beyond that will just make you more comfortable on your run.
Water, water and more water
Firstly you need to make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the hot weather not just on the days you run. Keep a bottle of water close by and take sips during the day. On a really hot day if you have to run there are plenty of ways to keep hydrated. Bring a small bottle of water with you for longer runs, or stash something along your route. You might even need to consider laps near home or near your car to stop for water along the way. Keeping hydrated after your run is really important too, we often don’t realise that drinking after can help replenish lost fluids and prepare us for our next run.
Always put on a good SPF before exercising in the summer. In fact a good SPF all year round won’t do you any harm. Pay extra attention to your face and shoulders as they can be very exposed during a run. Try and get someone to put your cream on to avoid missing any bits on your back. Depending on how long you are out running in the sun you may need to apply some more cream on during your run. Test out what works best for you being conscious that on very hot days you can sweat it off (even some of the sport/exercise suncreams). Top tip -When applying your sun cream pop a small amount of Vaseline on your eyebrows first to stop the sun cream running into your eyes as you heat up.
Choosing the right clothing.
We are not all fans of shorts and if very short they can be more of a hindrance than a help. The best shorts I owned cost me 8 euro in decathlon, so its not always the price – it’s the fit and comfort for you. Wear lightweight running clothing. Plenty of brands have Dri fit technology built in. Any cotton material is only going to gather sweat and make you start to feel hotter, heavier and more uncomfortable as you go on. Often a loose fitting t-shirt can be much more airy than a tight top.
Protecting your eyes
In terms of keeping the sunshine out I find it very difficult to run with sunglasses on. If too hot they can fog up and can end up on top of your head so my personal preference is a visor. How very 1980’s of me but a hat covering my head makes me sweat more and the visor protects my forehead from the sun and my eyes. It also catches some of the sweat that could potentially go into my eyes. There are plenty of really great sports specific sunglasses out there but I have yet to find the ones for me.
Warm weather and chaffing
D’on’t know what I’m talking about? lucky you! Chaffing can happen anywhere, out of nowhere and you only know its happened when you get into the shower after a run. Chaffing can happen anywhere skin meets skin, or skin meets uncomfortable clothing, so thighs, arms, sports bra, feet (although more blisters here which we will come to). Chaffing is certainly not exclusive to warm weather but it comes ten fold on a hot day. Vaseline is your friend, if you have experienced chaffing in any area before apply a small amount of vaseline before the run to the area and it should help.
Your feet can swell in the heat so be mindful of thinner socks or loosening your laces slightly on particularly hot days. Many runners experience blisters for the first time on a summers day, having run in the same runners all through the winter. You can choose blister proof socks, put tape on areas that blister easily, or simply some talc on your feet before a run to absorb some of the extra sweat.
Time of day
Midday is usually known for being the hottest time of the day but in early summer in Ireland the afternoon can be even hotter. So if you can force yourself up early in the morning you will find your runs much more enjoyable. Later in the evening can be cooler too.
If you can run by the coast you might be lucky enough to get a coastal breeze to help you out, but that is not always possible. Try and find some shaded areas in your local park, tree lined parks and forest trails can be extremely refreshing during the summer months. The surfaces are not slippy and wet from excessive rain and the trees provide much needed shelter.
Other items to note during summer running
As well as losing water on a run you can also loose salts. Be sure to replace the salts lost after a run. This can be as simple as including some extra salt in your diet or trying out sports drinks that provide electrolytes. Listening to your body during and after a run will help you know whats best for your recovery.
Try to be mindful that running in the heat takes more toll on your body than running in the cold. Your bodies main function is to stay alive and on a hot run part of that is regulating your body temperature, although some days it feels like it has packed that in! So don’t be surprised if a run feels a lot harder than it should, or if your focus is pace don’t worry if it slows a bit. Remember Olympic athletes train in warm weather to put their bodies under extra pressure to train to maximum capacity. You are just out to get some exercise and earn that ice cream post run.
Happy running, If you are anything like me, running in a heatwave will give you a new found appreciation for winter nights in the rain!